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Women making political waves, but still far from parity

Women making political waves, but still far from parity

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Editor: The praises for the electoral performances of the Vincentian women who were candidates in our recent general elections come from right across the board, on both sides of the political divide as well as from persons not politically affiliated. Yet in spite of the plaudits, the reality is that there will not be a single elected female in our next Parliament.

It is far from a comforting situation for surely our women, who make such sterling contributions to our political development, deserve better than that. It is true that the parties may try to make up by appointing female senators, but all such appointees are there at the whim of the political leaders, not in their own right.

Over the years, in countries large and small, rich and poor, women have steadily been increasing their representation in Parliament. More and more of them are demonstrating that the days when women could not even vote, much more get elected to parliament, are relics of the past. There is now even an international ranking of where countries stand in regard to female representation in Parliament.

Statistics provided by the UN WOMEN indicate that almost one quarter of all parliamentarians globally, as of last year, were women. The percentages varied greatly from one region to the other, with the Nordic countries leading the way with more than 40 per cent female representation, the Americas 30 per cent, other non-Nordic European countries 27 per cent, and sub-Saharan Africa 24 per cent.

The central African nation of Rwanda, which gained notoriety for genocide in 1994, today has the highest proportion of female representation in parliament, with 61 per cent in the Lower chamber and 38 per cent in the Upper Chamber.

In second place is Cuba with more than half ( 53%) of its Parliamentarians being women.

Caribbean countries rank prominently with Grenada in 8th place (7 of i5 elected and 4 of 13 Senators), with Guyana (35th) and Dominica (38th) doing better than the UK, Netherlands or the USA, the latter ranking only 87th on the list.

A growing number of women are now serving as either Heads of State or Heads of Government, following the ground-breaking path of Sri Lanka’s Sirivamo Bandaranike, the first woman to be elected Head of Government in 1960 and Argentina’s Isabella Peron, the first female Head of State in 1974. Among these is Barbados Prime Minister Ms. Mia Mottley.

Encouraging though these statistics are, the reality is that women are still far from parity where representation at political decision-making is concerned.

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